Legal information | Háttér Society

Legal information


Decriminalization and age of consent

Sexual acts between consenting men was decriminalized in 1962; sexual activity between women had never been criminalized. The age of consent was equalized in 2002, it is currently 14 for both same- and different-sex sexual activity.

Freedom of association and freedom of assembly

LGBT organizations are free to operate in Hungary. The first LGBT organization was founded in 1988, there are currently more than a dozen such organizations. A national umbrella organization bringing together NGOs involved in LGBT issues was set up in 2009.

LGBT public events (including Pride Marches) have taken place in Hungary since 1997. Since 2007 violent anti-gay protestors have attacked the March several times. In 2011 and 2012 the police refused to grant permission for the Pride march, but the Court later overturned the decision.

Prohibition of discrimination

The Hungarian Constitution does not specifically ban discrimination based on sexual orientation; however, it does prohibit discrimination based on “any other status”, which has been interpreted by the Constitutional Court to include sexual orientation as well.

Since 2003 the Act on Equal Treatment and the Promotion of Equal Opportunities explicitly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, education, social security and health, housing and access to goods and services.

Victims of discrimination can take cases to court or the Equal Treatment Authority. Legal procedure at the Authority is free and relatively quick.

Marriage and partnership

As of 2012, the Fundamental Law of Hungary defines marriage as a union between a woman and a man.

Unregistered cohabitation between same-sex partners has been recognized since 1996 and registered partnership offering similar benefits as marriage is available to same-sex couples since July 1, 2009.

Registered partners enjoy all the rights and duties of married couples except for taking the partner’s name, joint adoption, stepparent adoption and assisted reproduction. Registered partnership ceremonies are conducted by registrars; divorce can be obtained through the courts or at public registrars if both parties agree in all matters. The default property regime between registered partners is joint estate, and registered partners enjoy the same inheritance, allowance and tenancy rights, tax and social benefits, survivor’s pension, etc. as married couples do.

Foreigners can enter into registered partnerships if at least one of the partners has permanent residency or citizenship in Hungary. Same-sex marriages and registered partnerships performed abroad are recognized in Hungary as registered partnerships.

See our publication on registered partnership for more information.


Single parent adoption is available for individuals regardless of sexual orientation or family status, but the law prescribes that preference has to be given to married (different-sex) couples. Partners in a same-sex relationship cannot adopt jointly, nor can they adopt their partner’s child.

Assisted reproduction is available to single women if they are infertile or due to their age are expected to become infertile soon. It is not available to women living in a lesbian partnership.

The parent’s registered partner has a duty to maintain the children, and is recognized as stepparent in most fields of life.

Hate crimes and hate speech

The Criminal Code includes regulation on “incitement to hatred” against any social group, which also covers sexual orientation and gender identity.

Since February 2009, the Criminal Code contains similar legislation on hate crimes as well: “violence against a member of a community” is a separate felony with enhanced penalty if the violent act is motivated by the victim’s belonging to a particular social group.

Though the legislation is relatively progressive, police and prosecutors are very reluctant to press such charges, and even if they do, they often prosecute hate crimes as less severe offences, because they are easier to prove.

Immigration and asylum

Registered partners are recognized as family members in immigration procedures to the same extent as different-sex spouses. The immigration authorities can also recognize couples who are not married, but live together permanently, however, the recognition is not automatic.

Sexual orientation is specifically mentioned as a ground for granting asylum. While gender identity is not explicitly mentioned, there have been cases where trans people suffering persecution were granted asylum.

See our publication on LGBTQI foreigners for more information.


Discrimination based on health status is prohibited by the Act on Equal Treatment and the Promotion of Equal Opportunities.

Compulsory HIV testing is limited to asylum seekers and certain professions. A known HIV-positive status has to be reported when applying for residence permit, but being HIV-postive is no ground for denying entry or residence. HIV-positive foreigners, however, are required to regularly visit their doctors.

Antiretroviral therapy is available free of charge for anyone with a Hungarian public health insurance.

Transgender rights

Discrimination based on gender identity is explicitly prohibited by the Act on Equal Treatment and the Promotion of Equal Opportunities.

There is no legislation on changing one’s legal gender; however, there is an established process for dealing with such requests: change of gender is authorized by the Ministry of Public Administration and Justice upon a submitted medical opinion. Sterilization or any form of surgery or medical treatment is not a prerequisite.

Gender reassignment surgeries are legal and performed in state as well as private medical institutions, but the public health insurance scheme covers only 10% of the costs.

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